Poblacht na hÉireann, War News: The History


The Society of Irish Revolutionary History and Militaria will begin publishing a series of articles on the Anti-Treaty, Republican newspaper Poblacht na hÉireann that was issued during the Irish Civil War. All the papers issued during the Civil War were also titled with a special War News heading and assigned an issue number and a date of publication. The first few issues were printed in a large A2 size format, before being reduced to an A3 size format for the remainder of publication. This could be attributed to paper stocking issues, as well as the availability of printing presses as the members of the Republican movement were forced to operate underground and on the run.

The idea for Poblacht na hÉireann was conceived in the days before the Treaty vote in January 1922. Liam Mellows, Frank Gallagher, and Erskine Childers, founded Poblacht na hÉireann to be the voice of the Republican movement and continue to champion the Republican cause, when all other papers refused to print material in opposition to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Childers was the main author and editor for Poblacht na hÉireann and turned it into a vital propaganda weapon to combat the Irish Free State government. His initial issues dealt strictly with the treaty issues; however, after the Irish Civil War began, the columns addressed a variety of issues, battles, the plight of Republican prisoners, and atrocities committed by Free State soldiers. Childers was able to utilize a mobile printing press to produce around 20,000 copies of Poblacht na hÉireann each week, which he sent not only to members of the Anti-Treaty IRA flying columns, but to embassies, newspaper agencies, Republican organizations in Britain, and even to jailed Republican prisoners.

Childers was arrested on 20 November 1922, and was found in possession of a pistol that had been given to him by Michael Collins. Possession of a firearm was a violation of the Free State Emergency Powers Resolution. Childers was tried by military court, convicted of the offence, and sentenced to death. He was executed by a firing squad on 24 November 1922. Poblacht na hÉireann continued to be published after Childers death; however, due to the loss of its main author the tone of subsequent issues was much different, and the propaganda values declined. The last issue of Poblacht na hÉireann was published around February of 1923. New papers rose up to carry on the mantle of Republican news in May 1923. The Republican newspaper, An Phoblacht, founded in 1925 and still in publication today, cites its roots back to Poblacht na hÉireann.

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